Blog Post 3

Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square

            As we first approached Tiananmen Square in Beijing, I was taken back by the size of it. It seemed to stretch for nearly half a mile. In the center was a large pillar and there were many significant buildings lining the square. For example, chairman Mao’s gravesite was a huge building dedicated solely to him. He was the founder of the people’s republic of China and many people came to pay their respects to him. There was a line that stretched around the building of people who wanted to come and honor the founder of their country. There was a large building near the center of the square that is used for political legislature events. This building is featured on the 100 Yuan bill because of its significance.            

The square was crowded with thousands of people, yet there was still room to move because of how massive it is. At the entrance to the Forbidden City, there is a large gate tower. Chairman Mao’s picture is hung in the center for everyone to see. You must cross a small bridge to reach the gate and from this point you can see how large the gate is. Once inside there is a courtyard and a path lined with trees that leads you to the next gate to enter the Forbidden City. After you buy your tickets you can cross under the gate and into the palace. Inside there is a gigantic open space which is only the front entrance into the city. You then pass through multiple building, all of which have their own specific purpose and are massive in size. The palace seemed to be never ended as you crossed into multiple courtyards and climbed stairs that led to various buildings. You could truly spend an entire day within the city and still not see all of it. I now know why it is called the Forbidden City!

Forbidden City Entrance in Tiananmen Square
Inside the Forbidden City

Overall Thoughts

            This trip has taught me many things about myself and other people. I was able to leave in a country that felt like a completely different world for nearly three weeks and learned to adapt in it. Along the way I created many friendships with people that were on the other side of the globe. We exchanged ideas and our cultural differences which make each of us unique. Working together we created a business plan for a new product that we had developed. Everyone was able to share their input and we created something that we all were proud of. I got to see many historical and significant sights across China that not many people in the world get to see. Going to the Great Wall was on of the best events of the entire trip. The scale and size of the wall is nearly unexplainable. You always see pictures in books or movies, but once you are standing on top of the wall you don’t really know how insane it is. People built a giant wall that stretches for thousands of miles on top of a mountain without any modern technology. This puts into perspective how great human beings can be when they work together on one common goal. During our trip we visited some great technology companies and was able to see 5G technology. Many people do not even know what this is and how it will change our future. This was a great opportunity to get an inside look on the significance of 5G in the coming years. China and the United States will be in a close race to see who can create and launch the technology first.

            To anyone who is considering going on this trip, or any study abroad, I would highly recommend it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet so many great people and learn about different cultures in the process. You will create many memories and experience so much in just a short amount of time. Any doubts you have about traveling abroad should be put aside and you should experience the world for what it truly has to offer.

Plane Ride Back to Boston

Nanjing Week 2

Buddhist Temple

            The day came when we were scheduled to go to one of the Buddhist temples in Nanjing. This temple was around 1,000 years old, and was the most famous one in the city. Out of all the sights we were going to see, this is one that I was most looking forward to. The best way to get there was by bus, so we all boarded the bus and headed to the temple. The bus dropped us off after about a twenty minute drive, and we walked the rest of the way. The walk was nice, even in the 95 degree heat, because it allowed you to see the downtown city area. We ran into a man from Chicago who was in Nanjing for business. He told us he was alone and just planned on wondering the city, so we invited him to come with us to the temple. There were hundreds of people there when we got there, but we managed to climb our way up the stairs and to the main courtyard of the temple. You are given incense and you light them in a room full of candles, after that you walk them across the courtyard to a large fire pit. Here, people gather around and pray, then stick their incense into the fire pit. It was a very interesting ritual that I enjoyed taking a part in. I could imagine the millions of people who have visited this temple over the past 1,000 years and preformed this very exact ritual in the same spot. There was a large structure that towered over the temple. It has lasted hundreds of years and the fact that people were able to build it with such basic tools was impressive. The best view took a little exploring to find. After seeing some people standing on the outer wall of the temple, I knew I had to find a way to get up there. I went down some side stairs and around one of the buildings and found a staircase that led up to the top of the wall. The view from this location was breathtaking. You could see the entire city and the large skyscrapers in the distance, a bridge that crossed a lake, and behind you the temple. The tower stood over the temple and it could be seen from outside of the walls. At one point, this was the largest structure and was the center of an ancient city for hundreds of years. The huge skyscrapers now towered over the temple, and it looked like a child’s toy in comparison.

Tea House

            During the second week of the trip, we visited some companies in China. China Unicom was the first company we visited. This company was the leading developer of 5G technology. This theology is able to download data 10x faster than 4G. This company had many great ideas for the future of 5G and they were planning on implementing it the city within the next couple years. China Unicom was interesting, but I was more excited to go to the incubators in the afternoon. These incubators were small startup companies that all shared a common building. Some of these companies were funded by Amazon and were working on many various products to help improve daily life. We took a tour of one of the offices where everyone was busy working in a company that focuses on shipping packages much like UPS. The man leading us through the tour was wearing traditional Chinese dress, a shaved head, and looked similar to a monk. He lead us out of the building and to his tea house that he was an investor in. There was just on single long table in the shop that we all gathered around. He sat in the center of the table and invited us all to join him. Behind him was a wall full of tea pots that extended all the way to the ceiling. He began to brew tea the traditional Chinese way and taught us along the way. Through a translator, he explained each precise movement and why it should be done this way. He was very calm and I could tell that he had a true passion for tea. He explained that he had spent a lot of time in the mountains visiting temples and learning the correct way to brew tea. I was sitting across from him and he asked me to brew a second pot of tea. I had just watched him do it, so I tried to mimic his actions. The process was to be done in a very reserved and delicate manner. We then discussed different business ideas and the future expansions of his tea house company. I could tell he was a very wise and knowledgeable man by the way he talked and carried himself. The experience was one of my favorite so far on the trip.

First Day in Nanjing

After a long 15 hour plane ride to Hong Kong. Stepping off the plane I did not know what to expect. I knew that I was going to experience a completely different culture, but I really was not ready for it. When we first landed in the airport in Hong Kong, I was taken away by how large it was. The terminals seemed to stretch for nearly a half mile, so far that you could not even see the other side. We landed around 5am in Hong Kong and the airport was nearly empty so I was confused as to why it was so massive. This quickly changed a few hours later when thousands of people flooded the terminals from all different parts of the world. Everyone was going on about their business and had their own agendas. One of the most interesting stores I found when exploring the airport was a shop selling all sorts of dried goods. Some of these items included chicken wings, fish, scallops, and chicken feet. I later found out that you can put these dried items in soups.

After another 3 hour flight to Nanjing, we finally had reached our destination. We left the airport and got into a van which took us to the hotel. The weather was extremely hot and humid and I was not used to it on the first day. The road from the airport to the hotel was where I got my first views of Nanjing. I was impressed by how clean the highways were and how much nature was spread throughout the city. When you think of large metropolitan cities, you do not tend to think there will be trees and flowers everywhere. There are large parks and lakes throughout the city that give it a very green and beautiful appearance. They have managed to place large modern skyscrapers in with parks which is what I found most impressive.

Once we reached the hotel, we decided to take a walk to see what the streets were like. There was so much life in the streets as people were walking everywhere and having conversations. Many people ride electric scooters to get around the city. These people seem to be natural at driving them with the way they are able to weave in and out of traffic and around the sidewalks, sometimes having 2 or 3 people on the same scooter. At one point I even saw a man with a small dog on the back of his scooter! The most interesting sight I saw was a man on a bike selling goldfish and plants. This is nothing I would have ever expected to see, as I did not think fish takes would go well with a bicycle. Somehow he managed to pedal around the streets with goldfish in the back. Lining the streets were shops that were selling all kinds of goods from food to cigarettes, even pets. Outside of the shops were vendors selling fruits and vegetables. It’s as if the city never sleeps because something is always going on at some hour.

Salt Lake

            The second day we went to a reconstruction of a classic Chinese town around a salt lake. There was about a 45 minute drive as we left the main city and traveled into the mountains. Once we got off the bus you could see a real Buddhist temple far off in the distance. This temple was at the very top of a large mountain and looked like it was straight out of a movie. As we headed into the park we could see from the distance a full city filled with ancient Chinese buildings. This combined the style of ancient Chinese buildings with modern interiors. The town was very beautiful and when you walked down the streets you were immersed in the town. It was as if you traveled back to ancient China. They had actors preforming shows and dressed in traditional Chinese attire. You started to imagine what life would have been like in the ancient world and how difficult simple tasks would become. We had a great tour guide on this trip who explained a lot of the history of China and how it evolved into what it is today. I enjoyed this trip because I was able to learn a lot about China’s deep history.